Just two hours train ride from Hong Kong’s Hung Hom railway station is the grand Canton capital of Guangzhou. Guangzhou the bustling heart of Canton and entirely worth a visit if you have the time. Comfortable express trains leave from Kowloon’s Hung Hom nearly every hour and whisks you across the border and into Guangzhou in high speed luxury.
On the journey a-la-carte food and drink is delivered directly to your plush arm-chair style seats. There’s plenty of room to stretch out in air conditioned comfort on the high speed rail link.
Once you arrive at Guangzhou East Railway Station, your visa is checked at the border and you are free to explore. You’ll often find mini-bus services for all the major hotels camped right outside immigration when you arrive.
Canton Tower is one place you can get a feel of this expansive opulent city on a short visit.
Canton tower is a must on a clear day. Looking like an organic beanstalk the tower stretches high above the skyline. It was the tallest tower in the world from 2009 until 2011 and now ranks 5th highest in the world.
If you dare, the middle of the tower contains an open-air theme park ride called “Sky Drop” where you can take in the view and an exhilarating theme park ride at the same time. You get to choose between a seated ride or a standing drop. It’s an experience that’s not for the feint hearted!
You’ll also find enchanting outdoor gardens within the tower structure where you can rest and take in the view. The highlight of a visit to Canton Tower is the rooftop terrace which has a series of passenger cars which scale and descend the elliptical terrace space; called “Bubble Tram” it offers a unique 360 panoramic views of surrounding Guangzhou. The trip takes about 40 minutes to complete. There is also a observation deck called 488 Lookout stationed on the Canton Tower antenna, which offers equally spectacular views.
If the view is not enough, then there are also French and Mediterranean themed revolving restaurants, exhibitions, shops and a 3D and 4D cinema complex. At night the tower lights shines in a spectacular light show which can be enjoyed from many places across the city including the river.
LIVING IT UP IN GUANGZHOU LUXURY
We recommend the luxurious Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou one of the cities newest and most exciting 5 star hotels. Room prices start from a modest Y1600 (AU$275) per night to stay in one of the best hotels in Guangzhou and we think this is great value for money. Western and Chinese dining and their mouthwatering breakfasts are of the highest quality. They also have a Spa where you can be pampered in absolute luxury, a welcome break after a busy day in metropolis. The service is truly exceptional. Visit http://www.mandarinoriental.com/guangzhou/
Most tourists can get China visas when they arrive in Hong Kong. Ask your concierge for details to the nearest travel agency who can process your china visa. CTS China Travel Service processes visas express and regular, or you can Visas can be processed Regular (4 day turnaround), Express (3 day turnaround) or Rush (1 day turnaround).
China visa pricing varies depending on the country of the passport held. The Chinese government uses a reciprocal pricing scale which means that your china visa reflects the price your country charges Chinese citizens for access to your country. You cannot get visas for greater China at any border, so do take note of the rules for your own safety.
GETTING TO THE TRAIN ON TIME
There are twelve trains that run between Hong Kong and Guangzhou daily, and these depart from Hung Hom station in Kowloon. Ticket prices start at HK$190 (approx. AU$27) each way and can be bought up to twenty minutes before departure from the station. You can also purchase tickets by phone by calling 2947-7888, and most good hotel concierge can make these bookings on your behalf.
Taxis will take you directly to Hung Hom station from all locations on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon for a modest fee. Getting anywhere in HK by taxi is inexpensive. Once you have your tickets, book your train tickets.
You must arrive at the station no later than 30 minutes before departure to clear customs before you depart Hong Kong, so you have time to board the train before it departs.
BUYING CHINESE YUAN BEFORE YOU LEAVE
At most tourist attractions credit cards like Visa and Mastercard will be accepted. You should be aware however that not all ATMs accept Cirrus cards, instead preferring the Chinese Jetco or UnionPay card. Make sure the ATM you choose has the Cirrus or Maestro logo before trying to use your ATM or credit card. To be safe you may want to change currency before you leave. The impressive HSBC Main Branch at 1 Queens Road Central Hong Kong has foreign currency withdrawal ATMs that dispense Yuan.Most HSBC local branches will exchange to Chinese Yuan as well, but be sure to bring your passport for identification.